My Little Poker Blog

Tuesday, May 24, 2005

Stretch and Retract

In high school I use to do many a sport…Football, Cross Country, Wrestling and Track. Of all these sports I would have to say that wrestling was the one sport that really use to take it’s toll on me. Yet, when it comes to poker I would like to turn to the sport of Cross Country (CC). Why? Well there are many parallels that one can get from this sport believe it or not.

I use to run on a very competitive team that was division one. I was the last runner to make the cut on that team but I didn’t mind. I figured it was o.k. since I was only doing it to keep my weight down for wrestling but all the other guys took the sport really serious so just to be able to get a small spot on the team was an accomplishment. Not to say I wasn’t a good runner for I could run the mile in 4:55 –5:05 on average. Yet, I wasn’t to the caliber of our top tier runners.

Our coach Tom use to have this training regimen that use to kill me. He called it stretch and retract, stretch and retract, rest, and run like hell. Basically this was how we would train when running so our workout would look like this.

Mon. (stretch): 6 mile run
Tues. (retract): 4 mile run
Wed. (stretch): 8 mile run
Thur. (retract): 5 mile run
Fri. (rest): short 2 mile run with team meeting
Sat (run like hell): run 2.5-3.0 mile race as fast as possible.
Sun. (day off): no running

I found this to be a very interesting approach to poker. I have been trying to use this approach here and there to see the highest limits I can play. If you have built a good bankroll you might want to try this approach in order to move up in your games. The reason being is that you will never move up in limits unless you are willing to take shots at them from time to time. Only when you get comfortable with those higher limits will you be able to not only beat them but also feel comfortable with them. There are times when I play small and times when I play over my head.

Here is what I do from time to time to test myself.

Mon. (stretch): 15/30 or 10/20 (depends on where I’m playing)
Tue. (retract): 2/4
Wed. (stretch): 15/30 or 10/20
Thur. (retract): 6/12 or 4/8 even 3/6 (depends on where I’m playing)
Fri. (rest): go back to the 2/4 game.
Sat. (run like hell): play a high game…40/80 or 50/100 for a bit

I know these are rather high limits and to be honest, I tend to always run back to 2/4 or 4/8 and sometimes I play ½ at party…just depends on the feel I’m having. I just think there are good players that don’t want to make the jump because they are playing good where they are at. I enjoy grinding but I also know my game will not improve unless I push here and there. Also, I have found that I really bring my A game when I move up in limits.

In closing, some of you might not want to try this and that is cool. But I think you should take a week and see where you can get with it. You might find that you can move up from the 2/4 to the 4/8 games and hold you own and find yourself a new home. Make sure to take into account variance when playing at these levels.

Monday, May 23, 2005

Vegas Questions

I borrowed most of these questions for Al. Yet, I did throw in a few myself.

1. What blogger would you most like to have a drink with?
I think it would be Derek. For some reason I think I can convince him to hit a club with me and get to see crazy drunk girls making out and grinding on the dance floor.

2. What blogger would you most like to talk poker with?
I would have to say F-Train, DoubleH and Iggy for Hold’em
I would have to say Felicia for Stud
I would have to say Al for Omaha8

3. What blogger would you most like to talk to about the written word?
Wow! Pauly, Double H and Grubbie

4. What single Vegas-trip event has you the most excited?
Not so much an event but playing at the same table as Maudie (I will be taking mental notes when she looks at her chips for she has a hand).

5. How many Taco Bell tacos can you eat?
A 12 pack easy…plus a number one meal which includes a taco supreme, burrito supreme and a coke…ask Pauly he’s seen me eat.

6. What do you expect most bloggers to be saying for chitz and giggles?
- Raise it up
- What? You called my 7-2 off-suit
- Who is the midget?
- Wow…Felecia is really nice
- Last but not least….HAMMA!!!!

Da' Townhouse

Before I start my blog I want to thank Toni for her hospitality. Although we didn’t get a chance to speak much I wanted to say the following about Toni: A great host who made everyone welcomed. Thank you very much Toni!!!!

I finally got to meet some Bloggers (Pauly, Mas, Derek, Jordan and F-Train) for those of you who haven’t had a chance to meet these people I will give you my read on them. I didn’t get a chance to speak to F-Train but I will give you my breakdown anyways.

Pauly – What can you say about the guy. Nice guy who is very excitable and willing to try and talk to everyone. In Vegas he is someone that you want to talk to for a few minutes. One of the highlights was talking about the automobile industry and the shape it’s in. Yes, Pauly can talk about more than just the Hilton Sisters and Katie Holmes…haha!

Pauly on Gambling: I think Pauly is a good gambler but he has a lot of gamble to him. Those are the people that are dangerous to run with in Vegas. In other words, he would make a prop bet on anything. People like this get me in trouble so I will stay away.

Mas – Got to talk to Mas a bit since he got K.O. from the tournament rather quickly. Mas is a very cool guy. In short, Mas is the type of guy you want to have as a friend for life because it seems his word is solid as oak.

Mas on Gabling: I want to tell people this…Mas is a gambler. I don’t want to make any Asian people love to gamble reference…but this guy has the most gamble in him than anyone I met. Not only gamble, he likes to push the limits. I remember Stuey U. once said that it’s not gambling for him unless it hurts when he losses. I’m willing to bet that this holds true for Mas. So he’s not going to give you a small 5.00 prop bet (he might do it to entertain you), but he’s much more willing to bump it up to 20.00 bucks for the ride. Thus, only run with this guy if you are willing to put your bankroll on the line.

Derek – Derek was the one guy that I was rather excited about meeting. Sure everyone wants to meet the fucken movie star Pauly, but meeting Derek was what I was really looking forward to. I just like the voice in his blog and his small ego when it comes to winning big pots and different polls he joins. Shit, I would be jumping on the table and doing the Dion Sanders shuffle if I won as much as he did…but he just takes it in stride. Derek was a cool guy and I was happy to finally meet him.

Derek on Gambling – Derek is the guy that I would want to gamble with. He’s just a thinker who has a lot of gamble to him but he’s under control…more of a grinder like myself. Any individual who takes a free-roll serious with 2,000 Mofo’s in it gets my respect.

Jordan – Jordan is a very cool guy and someone you could have a beer with at a barbeque. I can see this guy owning a boat and saying, “hey, come over for some fishing, water skiing, and drinking some beers in the sun.” Just a very cool guy.

Jodan on Gambling – I think Jordan is more of a serious gambler. If he puts his money in there you best believe he has a hand. He goes in getting the best of it. I know that if we are in a pot I better have a hand or 10 outs at the least. He’s a purest when it comes to gambling and doesn’t like games like follow the queen and so forth so I like this gambling aspect of him.

F-Train – A very pensive guy who if you were to talk to one on one he would get into some deep shit. Like I said, I didn’t get a chance to speak to F-Train much but he seems like a thinker and someone you would want to sit one on one with and get into some poker material with.

F-Train on Gabling – Stay away from this guy. He’s a solid player and is one of those individuals who knows all his outs and have pot odds down to a science, so while your counting in your head he has it all worked out already.

In closing, these remarks were made with small amounts of information so I could be totally wrong on this stuff. Just thought I would take a stab on the information that I gathered…then again, I think going all in with 2-2 is solid.

Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Looking for a room or to share a room...poor blogger needs help!!

I wanted to thank Pauly for posting my need for a room or roommate in Vegas. Thus, if you have a room already and are looking to split the cost let me know. I’m really wanting to cut down on costs due to all my traveling over the next three months. I hope that someone will be willing to help me out with the sleeping situation (which I probably won’t do much of).

I guess I should post a little bit about myself. I’m a very quite individual who tends to keep to himself. I do like to have a few drinks but not when playing poker…sorry, just a bore like that I suppose. If you want to get to know me a bit more click on the right and you can see both my foodie and city blog.

In closing, hope someone can help a brother who is trying to save some money. Like I said, I will pony up for my half of the room and drinks here and there.

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

Bobby Fischer II and Being Sane

It goes without saying the there are times you get so involved with something you lose track of what is important to you. I was sitting here and thinking about what happened to Bobby Fischer and so many other great minds. It’s almost like their genius drives them to another level of understanding that they can never come back from. They get so into their world that they can never come back or their understanding of reality is skewed. I was reading the post to my last blog entry by MSCMIKE. I couldn’t agree more with you, brother.

For those of you who don’t know Bobby Fischer or his persona, has said some awful things about Jewish people and their standing in chess and the world in general. I am not going to make this a political post but needless to say, they have been done in poor taste and have no merit. In the world of poker Jewish players have made huge contributions to the game and here are a few names for you: Unger, Greenstein, Arieh and the list goes on and on.

In chess and life Bobby refuses to acknowledge the great Jewish players and people there are in the world (these remarks are odd being that Fischer himself is half Jewish):

Yeah, there are too many Jews in chess. They seem to have taken away the class of the game. They don't seem to dress so nicely, you know. That's what I don't like.
- Bobby Fischer

Now how does this relate to poker you may ask? Well I often think that poker consumes way too much of my life. And I never want to go over the deep end like Bobby. Not saying I’m the caliber of player that he is and ever was…but I have seen people throw their lives away on games. Reminds me of that great chess movie, Searching For Bobby Fischer when you see guys playing opening move after opening move and talking to themselves. If you think that this really doesn’t happen or it's overboard go down to the Washington Square Park and the local chess stores in the area and you can find those individuals by the dozens.

I read Iggy’s blog and wonder what it would be like to live his life instead of grinding it out on the daily from the 9-5. Yet, there are times when Iggy himself questions his sanity by living this life. I can’t recall any direct quotes, but I think Iggy has had a difficult time of it from time to time adjusting to this new profession. His mind often grapples with the notion of getting a new job instead of playing online daily to grind out his profits.

Staying sane is a difficult thing while playing poker. I have been reading and reading and reading and getting lost in some of these books. Do I consider myself a good player…well not good…about average, yet the desire to get better is a daily exercise for me. Whether it be reading a book or playing, I’m always trying to improve my game. At times I forget to do some simple things because I rather play a few hands of poker. I have been working on getting better at this and I have made a daily hit list to assist me with this goal. My daily list looks like this with some other things added here and there…but this is the base:

1. Read a book on the way to work that doesn’t deal with poker.
2. Read a daily political blog.
3. Complete my work hit list before reading daily blogs
4. Call a friend and speak with them about something other than poker

I know these things are simple but they keep me sane. Serious…I had been going to my local poker room so much that I didn’t have time for myself, and anything other than poker.

I hope that all of you do something outside of poker if you see yourself getting too caught up in the daily grind. I’m not sure what your hit list would and should look like…but make sure it includes some healthy things to keep you mind clear and pumping blood to the brain. I wish you all the best of luck.

Thursday, May 05, 2005

Bobby Fischer Visits Joaquin

Fischer does not merely outplay opponents; he leaves them bodily and mentally glutted. Fisher himself speaks of the exultant instant in which he feels the 'ego of the other player crumbling.'
– George Steiner

Sorry for the misleading title to this article. I suppose I just wanted to catch your attention and also just point out the importance of Fischer, the movie titled after him “Searching for Bobby Fischer”, and the relation to chess and poker.

When I was eleven, I just got good.
– Bobby Fischer

Who is this madman of the chessboard that became so enamored with the game that he dropped out of high school? Robert Fischer has become an interesting if not off the wall personality that we have all grown to either like, dislike of just laugh at. Yet, there is no denying his accomplishments in the game of chess. Here are a few:

Age 13: Youngest U.S. National Junior Champion
Age 14: Youngest U.S. National Champion
Age 15: Youngest Grandmaster in the history of chess

How did he grow so deep in his knowledge of this game at such a young age? Well for starters Bobby was a no regular kid. Well before leaving school to pursue chess full-time Bobby Fischer was tested in school and had an IQ of 180. He also had a huge ability to retain information. So as you can see…Bobby wasn’t a regular kid from the start...he was one smart cookie.

“I like the moment when I break a man’s ego.”
-Bobby Fischer

In poker terms I suppose you can say that these accomplishments are like having Doyle being beat by a 13-year-old kid heads up over a year’s time. Not only beat, but crushed. Make no mistake about it (and Bobby knew this read above quote); Bobby was out to take your heart from you. He wanted you to guess every move you would make. Isn’t this what all poker players want and aspire to do. To control the table so much so that every time you come into the pot you are making the other guy second guess his move. More so, to always be thinking what you were dealt before you even come into the pot. In boxing it’s called, “setting the tempo or tone of the fight”. We have all been in that zone when we can do no wrong, lay down when we have a loser, raise to get pot-odds on our side for a draw, slow play a pair knowing you are going to get raised only for you to re-raise and all this in one sitting. But how come we can't do it night over night?

All that matters on the chessboard is good moves.
– Bobby Fischer

His opening repertoire was fairly narrow but virtually impeccable. He did not force play into particular channels but played with great objectivity into whatever offered the best winning chances, be it a tactical or positional middlegame or an ending. He rarely lost the initiative, but could defend well when it was necessary. He could be brilliant but did not seek brilliancy for its own sake; he preferred the point on the crosstable. Psychologically he was strong, usually coming back with powerful wins to avenge past defeats.
– Tim Harding

In chess one has a lot more control than in poker in terms of starting hands. In chess you control those starting hands. This all depends what piece you like to move from the start. In poker you are given two cards to play…but it’s how you play those cards that counts often. I have learned over time when to raise with a small pair to get the odds and when to just limp in and when to raise when you are on a rush because you will get people to fold to your small pair. So in some ways starting hands can be powerful if you have set the table already.

When you play Bobby, it is not a question if you win or lose. It is a question if you survive.
– Boris Spassky

I was a chess nerd for many years. I even played on the UCLA chess club team in college. There was this Russian girl who just use to crush everyone…well except for some of the Russian guys and other top players. In any case, for some reason we use to play a lot against one another…I mean A LOT (note: not a super attractive Russian girl and we are talking about chess). I took notice that none of the guys wanted to be smashed by this girl. Was it because she was a girl? I don’t think so…in chess, like poker, once you lose your legs from under you it’s a long road back. Getting crushed hurts your ego and you find yourself limping in with AA because you are scared of a bad flop. Oh, back to the story…she use to always tell me after crushing me for three games strait…”Joaquin, you play so scared” in her Russian accent. Being the hot head I was at the time I use to get sooooooooooo pissed when she would tell me this. So I would line them up and she would kill me another three games. Finally I conceded she was a far better player than I was…I think the final score of my games against her was something like 2-25-3. Yes, I still have the scars from the blood bath.

Chess is a matter of delicate judgment, knowing when to punch and how to duck.
– Bobby Fischer

Fischer is the profoundest student of chess who ever lived. He reads incessantly, forgets nothing, turns knowledge into action with monstrous precision and ferocity.
– Brad Darrach

In any case, after about two weeks and these ass-thrashing I noticed my game was getting worse. I was losing to the bottom tier of our team and I was put on the alternate list. I was crushed. I tried to regroup but I was broken already and I told her she had taken my game from me (we had become somewhat friends by then). She told me to read some books and play super aggressive and bring the queen out early (that’s like telling someone to play aggressive when they are drawing with one out). About after a week of healing and reading and another week of playing I was getting back to my old form. What this break helped me realize was that she had taken away my first move intuitions, strategic play, and I was playing scared. Does this sound familiar to any readers?

Chess demands total concentration and a love for the game.
– Bobby Fischer

Sometimes I think the Russians have the chess down so much because it’s such a passion for them. The next lesson she taught me was to clean my room. I know, I know, she wasn’t my mother or sister (both of mine are always on me about this), but she was dead serious. I am not sure if you remember in the great movie (well great for us chess nerds), “Searching for Bobby Fischer” where the boy cleans his room from top to bottom. Well basically she told me to really get better at chess one had to have a clear head and clean environment had to be a part of my life (O.K. I was in college so I would clean the room but I had to have a beer here and there). It couldn’t be a hobby; it had to be a passion a way of life. I remember doing my college boy clean up routine and just putting a chessboard in front of me (chess people know what I’m talking about) and I sat there thinking. I suppose it’s similar to riffling chips and sitting there thinking of how to play hands without any cards in your hand and you are alone…yeah, that’s it. In any case, it just kind of all made sense after a while. I went and purchased an electronic chessboard (cheap thing broke after a few months) and I just played when I had some time on my hands and practiced opening moves from books over and over again (note to self: tell Maudie new invention for retirement fund, make program where you can get the two cards you want and play them against the computer…computer breaks down pre-flop and post-flop play) and things just started to get better and better. I even got back my spot on my team and started to hold my own against the Russian girl…no, never beat her hands down…continued to get killed but I could feel she had to respect me a bit more.

All I want to do, ever, is just play chess.
– Bobby Fischer

Where am I going with this? I think for those of us who have poker as a passion really have to live it. Sure we blog about poker and write about our bad beats. But how many of us really break down how we play our hands? Do we really follow who is at our table and how they played the last hands or are we playing the cards and not the people? What I’m trying to say is that I cleaned my room again. I set a green felt on my desk and stacked my chips on it to give it a poker feel. I am re-reading every book I have on poker an taking notes on pages and post-it papers and placing them on my wall in a nice neat order. Got the books to track my wins and keeping really good records. I don’t know, just some food for thought for all of those in blogville.

Psychologically, you have to have confidence in yourself and this confidence should be based on fact.
– Bobby Fischer

In closing, the main comparison which I haven’t touched on which I meant to touch on was that poker, like chess, is a thinking person’s game and one must always be working their brain. Maybe I will have people send in their request for how they improve their brainpower at the table and list them. I hope you all have a great day and may you control the felt like Bobby did the chessboard.